Believers of Jesus Standing in Grace

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand . . .” Romans 5:1-2 NIV

The apostle Paul, who wrote the above words to first century believers in Rome, could sure power-pack a sentence, couldn’t he? Just look at the topics he touched on: faith, justification, peace with God, our Lord Jesus Christ, gaining access, grace. Wow, what crucial and life-changing issues.

Each part of the passage above is worthy of reflection, but today let’s take a closer look at the last few words—“this grace in which we now stand.” Just think about it. As believers, we are standing in grace. Yes, standing in grace! How thrilling is that?

Of course our very salvation, eternal life, and status as children of God are all gifts of grace—given to us because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. But every blessing that comes to us is a grace gift, isn’t it? John, who referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, said, “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.” (John 1:16 GNT)

I don’t know about you, but I’m not only standing in grace—I’m dripping in grace. The gift and privilege of being a child of God, of being right with him because of what Jesus did, is more than enough to have me feeling bathed in grace all the time. But all the blessings he continues to pour out on me keep me dripping in grace with every step I take.

I pray that his grace will shine through me each day. I pray that any joy I feel in his blessings will reflect back to him, the Giver of all good gifts. May all who cross my path see me as I am—see me standing in grace. May all who cross my path see him.

“. . . and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 NIV

*What’s one of the recent grace gifts God has given you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Anemone Jones, Creative Commons License

An Unwanted Twist in Motives When Pride Sneaks In

It can come out of nowhere—or be so subtle I don’t even notice it at first. A twist in motives.

Pride slips in, unwanted yet there. My heart and thoughts can be in the right place as I start an activity—writing, singing, serving in ministry, helping someone, or even in online interactions. And then bam—a desire to impress pops up.  Whether ever so slightly or a glaring example, my motives take a twist. I hate it when it happens.

I’m not alone, though. A twist in motives can sneak up on any of us at any time, especially when we’re doing something we do rather well. It’s natural—and okay—to feel good about a job well done. The problem occurs when we start to puff up and get prideful, secretly wondering if we’ve impressed certain people. It’s crazy how we get prideful over the talents and abilities God alone has given us, isn’t it?

Thankfully the Lord has made me acutely aware of my prideful tendencies. Most of the time I immediately recognize a prideful thought and can go to battle against Satan as he tries to snare me in his trap. I go to prayer, confessing my twist in motives and ask the Lord to help me want “to bless and not impress.” (That’s a phrase I keep handy at all times—a phrase I strive to live by.)

Do any of you have a similar struggle with pride trying to weasel its way into your heart? I think the apostle Paul may have. Whether he battled pride or a different problem, he told the believers in Rome, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21)

Let’s continually be on guard against the enemy’s attempts to get us to slip into pride, his plans to corrupt our initial desire to serve or bless. Let’s be on the lookout for a twist in motives.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 KJV

*How can you be more alert to pride sneaking in?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by .Bala, Creative Commons License

Paying Attention to Warning Signs

Several years ago my hair dryer made me nervous each time I used it. I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, hair wet and as straight as a string, and panicked a little each time after flipping its switch on. The faint burning smell it emitted could not be a good thing.

Thank goodness for the warning sign. This particular hair dryer had served me long and well and was now even giving me a heads up that it might be nearing its last blow dry session. What a trusty friend, huh?

Somehow, though, I’d forget the warning and go on my merry way, not thinking about it until the next time my head was wet. After a few nerve-wracking episodes of blow dryer roulette—also known as praying for it to dry my hair before it shut down permanently—I decided to take precautions and buy a new hair dryer before disaster struck. In other words, I finally paid attention to the warning signs.

Since a hair dryer disaster is a trivial matter (if it happens to someone else!), let’s consider other more serious warning signs we might be overlooking or forgetting as we hurry on to the next item on our agendas. What do we see happening in our lives that warrants our proactive and precautionary attention?

Maybe our bodies are trying to tell us something. Is it time to see the doctor? Do we need to make more time for sleep at night? Or maybe we see signs of trouble with our families. Do one of them need a medical appointment? Or are our kids acting out or withdrawing? Do our spouses seem troubled or distant? And what about finances? Are we juggling payments or hiding purchases and credit card statements from our significant others? For each of us the warning-sign scenarios may be different, but if we are wise, we’ll pay attention. And that’s not always easy to do.

And what about warning signs that something may be amiss in our spiritual lives? Do we feel like God is far away? Have we been neglecting time in his Word or in talking with him? Or perhaps the joy has disappeared from our relationship with the Lord. Have we slipped into following a set of rules rather than loving a person?

Let’s be thankful for warning signs that alert us to possible problems—and then let’s be proactive.
Let’s take precautions, if possible, before we encounter major malfunctions. We’ll all rest easier then.

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” Proverbs 4:6 NIV

*Have any warning signs come to your attention lately?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Public Domain photo by Henrique Vicente

A Spring Poem: Morning Symphony

Morning Symphony

Much is reborn in spring,
Among them the morning symphony.
Nature’s music long muffled
By cold days and closed windows
Now greets me with gladness again.

The sweetness of the birds’ songs
Sends my spirit soaring,
Those pure, clear notes that nature sings
Point me to the Creator
To the grand Conductor
Of the magnificent morning symphony.

The cheep-cheep-cheep, the caw, the coo
The sliding chords and yodels
Take their turns with who-whoo-whoos
And leave me marveling at the glory.

Other sounds add different layers
Add interludes and accents,
A dog’s frenzied barking, a chattering squirrel
A train whistling in the distance
All keep me guessing what more
The masterpiece holds this morning.

And then soon I hear
The flutter of wings
A bird whooshing by overhead,
Next chiming church bells create a chorus
To which I’m compelled to add my voice.

No two days exactly the same
New music unfolds with each sunrise,
The morning symphony no longer muffled,
The voice of God,
A life-giving melody
Renews and inspires my spirit.
Yes, much is reborn in spring.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”
Psalm 40:3 NIV

*What do you like best about spring?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Jacob McGinnisCreative Commons License

Surrounded by the Lord

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2 NIV

I love this verse. After rediscovering it several years ago, I personalized it and made it part of my early morning prayer each day. Before even getting out of bed, I gave the Lord my day and placed my times in his hands. Then along with a few basic requests, I added, “And Lord, as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so surround me with your peace and your protection.”

Sometimes the thought of being surrounded brings up negative images, but that’s certainly not the case here. Not for me—not when it’s the Lord doing the surrounding.

I suppose if someone didn’t love the Lord or was trying to run or hide from him, it would be a frightening prospect to be surrounded by the Almighty. But for those who know and love him and look to him for help, great comfort lies in the precious knowledge of his surrounding presence and care.

The image of mountains, so strong and protective, surrounding a little town paints the perfect picture of what the Lord does for us, his people. The Lord stands guard, ever watchful, ever ready to protect and guide. He provides majesty and beauty, adventure and stability. He keeps us nestled in his peace as we look to him.

Each day let’s picture ourselves surrounded by the Lord. Let’s relax in his care. Let’s snuggle down into that place of peace he has reserved for us. Let’s fix our eyes on him. Let’s be surrounded by his peace.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121 NIV

*When have you felt supernaturally surrounded by God’s peace?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by It’s No Game, Creative Commons License